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Estupor y temblores

Estupor y temblores

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Estupor y temblores

valoraciones:
4/5 (31 valoraciones)
Longitud:
113 página
2 horas
Publicado:
Sep 1, 2000
ISBN:
9788433936110
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Una joven belga inicia su vida labora el una empresa de Tokio. Una mirada irónica y sagaz sobre las diferencias entre Oriente y Occidente.

Esta novela de inspiración autobiográfica, que ha obtenido un enorme éxito en Francia, cuenta la historia de una joven belga que empieza a trabajar en Tokio en una gran compañía japonesa. Pero en el Japón actual, fuertemente jerarquizado, la joven tiene el lastre de un doble handicap: es occidental y mujer, lo cual la convertirá en blanco de una cascada de humillaciones y de una progresiva degradación laboral que la llevará a pasar de la contabilidad a servir cafés, ocuparse de la fotocopiadora y finalmente encargarse de la limpieza de los lavabos masculinos.

Publicado:
Sep 1, 2000
ISBN:
9788433936110
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Amélie Nothomb was born in Japan to Belgian parents in 1967. She lives in Paris. Her edgy fiction, unconventional thinking, and public persona have combined to transform her into a worldwide literary sensation. Her books have been translated into twenty-five languages and counting, and been awarded numerous prizes including the French Academy’s Grand Prix for the Novel, the René-Fallet, Alain-Fournier, and Jean-Giono prizes.


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Estupor y temblores - Amélie Nothomb

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Estupor y temblores

Créditos

El señor Haneda era el superior del señor Omochi, que era el superior del señor Saito, que era el superior de la señorita Mori, que era mi superiora. Y yo no era la superiora de nadie.

Podríamos decirlo de otro modo. Yo estaba a las órdenes de la señorita Mori, que estaba a las órdenes del señor Saito, y así sucesivamente, con tal precisión que, siguiendo el escalafón, las órdenes podían ir saltando los niveles jerárquicos.

Así pues, en la compañía Yumimoto yo estaba a las órdenes de todo el mundo.

El 8 de enero de 1990, el ascensor me escupió en el último piso del edificio Yumimoto. El ventanal, al fondo del vestíbulo, me aspiró como lo habría hecho la ventanilla rota de un avión. Lejos, muy lejos, se veía una ciudad tan lejos que dudaba haberla pisado jamás.

Ni siquiera se me ocurrió pensar que fuera necesario presentarme en la recepción. En realidad, no me rondaba la cabeza ninguna ocurrencia, sólo la fascinación por el vacío, por el ventanal.

A mis espaldas, una voz ronca acabó por pronunciar mi nombre. Me di la vuelta. Un hombre de unos cincuenta años, bajo, delgado y feo, me miraba con desagrado.

–¿Por qué no le ha comunicado su llegada a la recepcionista? –me preguntó.

No supe qué contestar y nada contesté. Incliné la cabeza y los hombros, constatando que en tan sólo diez minutos, sin haber pronunciado ni una palabra, ya había causado una mala impresión en mi primer día en la compañía Yumimoto.

El hombre me dijo que se llamaba señor Saito. Me pidió que le siguiera por innumerables e inmensas salas, en las que me presentó a multitud de personas, cuyos nombres yo iba olvidando a medida que él los iba pronunciando.

Luego me hizo pasar al despacho de su superior, el señor Omochi, que era enorme y espantoso, lo cual confirmaba su condición de vicepresidente.

A continuación, me señaló una puerta y, con tono solemne, me anunció que, tras ella, estaba el señor Haneda, el presidente. Ni que decir tenía que no debía pasárseme por la cabeza la posibilidad de conocerlo.

Finalmente, me guió hasta una gigantesca sala en la que trabajaban unas cuarenta personas. Me indicó cuál era mi sitio, situado justo frente al de mi inmediata superiora, la señorita Mori. Esta última asistía a una reunión en aquel momento y se reuniría conmigo a primera hora de la tarde.

El señor Saito me presentó rápidamente a la asamblea. Y a continuación me preguntó si me gustaban los retos. Estaba claro que no tenía derecho a responder con una negativa.

–Sí –dije.

Fue la primera palabra que pronuncié en la empresa. Hasta aquel momento me había limitado a inclinar la cabeza.

El «reto» que me propuso el señor Saito consistía en aceptar la invitación de un tal Adam Johnson para jugar juntos al golf el domingo siguiente. Yo tenía que escribir una carta en inglés dirigida a dicho señor para comunicárselo.

–¿Quién es Adam Johnson? –cometí la estupidez de preguntar.

Mi superior suspiró con exasperación y no respondió. ¿Acaso constituía una aberración no saber quién era Adam Johnson o, por el contrario, mi pregunta había pecado de indiscreción? Nunca lo supe –y nunca supe quién era Adam Johnson.

El ejercicio me pareció fácil. Me senté y redacté una carta cordial: el señor Saito se mostraba encantado con la idea de jugar al golf el próximo domingo con el señor Johnson y le transmitía sus más cordiales saludos. Se la llevé a mi superior.

El señor Saito leyó mi trabajo, soltó un despectivo chillido y la rompió:

–Repítala.

Pensé que quizás había sido excesivamente amable o familiar con Adam Johnson y redacté un texto frío y distante: el señor Saito acusaba recibo de la decisión del señor Johnson y, conforme a sus deseos, jugaría al golf con él.

Mi superior leyó mi trabajo, soltó un despectivo chillido y la rompió:

–Repítala.

Sentí la tentación de preguntarle en qué me había equivocado, pero como su reacción a mi investigación respecto al destinatario de la carta ya había demostrado, parecía evidente que mi jefe no toleraba las preguntas. Así pues, debería averiguar por mi cuenta qué clase de lenguaje utilizar con el misterioso Adam Johnson.

Pasé las horas siguientes redactando cartas dirigidas al jugador de golf. El señor Saito marcaba el ritmo de mi producción rompiéndolas, sin más comentario que aquel chillido a modo de estribillo. Cada vez me veía obligada a inventar una nueva formulación.

Aquel ejercicio tenía un lado «Hermosa marquesa, vuestros divinos ojos me matan de amor» que no dejaba de tener su encanto. Exploré categorías gramaticales mutantes: «¿Y si Adam Johnson se convirtiera en verbo, próximo domingo en sujeto, jugar al golf en complemento directo y el señor Saito en adverbio? El próximo domingo acepta encantado adamjohnsonizar un jugar al golf señorsaitomente. ¡Chúpate ésta, Aristóteles!»

Empezaba a divertirme cuando me interrumpió mi superior. Rompió la enésima carta sin siquiera leerla y me comunicó que la señorita Mori acababa de llegar.

–Esta tarde trabajará usted con ella. Mientras tanto, tráigame un café.

Ya eran las dos de la tarde. Mis ejercicios epistolares me habían absorbido tanto que ni siquiera se me había ocurrido hacer la más mínima pausa.

Dejé la taza sobre la mesa del señor Saito y me di la vuelta. Una chica alta y grande como un arco se dirigía hacia mí.

Siempre que pienso en Fubuki me viene a la mente el arco nipón, más alto que un hombre. Por eso bauticé la empresa «Yumimoto», es decir: «las cosas del arco».

Y cuando veo un arco, siempre me viene a la mente Fubuki, más alta que un hombre.

–¿La señorita Mori?

–Llámeme Fubuki.

Yo ya no escuchaba lo que me decía. La señorita Mori medía por lo menos un metro ochenta, una altura que pocos varones japoneses alcanzan. Pese a la rigidez nipona a la que tenía que sacrificarse, era una mujer esbelta y absolutamente cautivadora. Pero lo que me dejó de piedra fue el esplendor de su rostro. Ella me hablaba, yo escuchaba el sonido de su voz, dulce y rebosante de inteligencia. Me mostraba los expedientes, me explicaba cuál era su contenido, sonreía. No se daba cuenta de que no la estaba escuchando.

A continuación me invitó a leer los documentos que había reunido sobre mi mesa, situada frente a la suya. Se sentó y se puso a trabajar. Dócilmente, hojeé aquellos papeluchos que ella había preparado para que yo los estudiara. Se trataba de liquidaciones de pago, listados.

Dos metros más allá, el espectáculo de su rostro continuaba siendo cautivador. Inclinados sobre aquellas cifras, sus párpados le impedían percatarse de que la estaba observando. Tenía la nariz más hermosa del mundo, la nariz japonesa, esa nariz inimitable, de inconfundibles y delicadas aletas. No todos los japoneses poseen ese tipo de nariz, pero si alguien la tiene sólo puede ser de origen nipón. Si Cleopatra hubiera tenido una nariz así, la geografía del planeta se habría enterado de lo que vale un peine.

Por la tarde, hubiera resultado mezquino pensar que de nada me habían servido las aptitudes por las que había sido contratada. Al fin y al cabo, lo que yo deseaba era trabajar en una empresa japonesa. Y en eso estaba.

Tenía la sensación de haber pasado una excelente jornada. Los días que siguieron confirmaron aquella impresión.

Seguía sin saber cuál era mi misión en la empresa; pero no me importaba. Al señor Saito yo le parecía una persona desconcertante; eso todavía me importaba menos. Estaba encantada con mi colega. Su amistad me parecía una razón más que suficiente para pasar diez horas diarias en la compañía Yumimoto.

Su piel, a la vez pálida y mate, era idéntica a la que con tanto acierto describe Tanizaki. Fubuki encarnaba a la perfección la belleza nipona, con la asombrosa excepción de su altura. Su rostro recordaba el «clavel del antiguo Japón», símbolo de la noble doncella de antaño: culminando aquella inmensa silueta, parecía destinado a dominar el mundo.

Yumimoto era una de las mayores empresas del universo. El señor Haneda dirigía el departamento Import-Export, que compraba y vendía todo lo imaginable a través

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3.9
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  • (2/5)
    Hilarisch is dit zeker te noemen, Nothomb's autobiografische ervaring in een Japans bedrijf. Maar satire is een delicate kunst, en overdrijving schaadt. Nothomb balanceert op de rand van het racisme.
  • (2/5)
    Hilarisch is dit zeker te noemen, Nothomb's autobiografische ervaring in een Japans bedrijf. Maar satire is een delicate kunst, en overdrijving schaadt. Nothomb balanceert op de rand van het racisme.
  • (5/5)
    This book was a very highly entertaining read. Nothomb insightful writing is a good observation of the cultural differences between her western culture and the Japanese culture in the woman's work force. It's full of wry humor, yet compassion for the characters. It's a very short but worthwhile read. I recommend it for those who are interested in modern Japan.
  • (4/5)
    An enjoyable memoir of a western woman (Belgian) taking a job for a large corporation in Tokyo, and how she never does anything right. The corporate cultural differences are hysterical. A quick enjoyable read that opens your eyes to differences. I am glad to live & work in North America,, even though according to the author, the Japanese consider us inferior beings LOL!!!
  • (4/5)
    This book has such a simple premise but happens to contain so much thought behind culture. I enjoy Amelie Nothomb, her writing has a certain dark comic side that I find fits perfect with my taste. This book is her most acclaimed with the awards it won, but I enjoyed "The Stranger Next Door" quite a bit more than this book. Perhaps because this contained more of an upfront cultural debate and the other contained more mystery. What I will be taking from this... I do like this Author very much and will be seeking out more of her work to read.
  • (3/5)
    I read this in the English translation, which apparently does not exist on goodreads.
  • (5/5)
    Este libro me descubrió la verdad de Japón. No deseo visitarlo jamás
  • (4/5)
    Clever, and sharply written, Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb is a strange, unsettling little book. Amelie, the novella’s narrator, was born in Japan to Belgian parents. She spent her childhood there and considers Japan to be her homeland. Amelie now has returned with great anticipation to Japan to work for the Yumimoto Corporation. On first appearances, Amelie is naïve and eager. Her first work assignment is simple and expertly accomplished, yet is evaluated by her superior as unsatisfactory, and without explanation, Amelie is forced to redo her work repeatedly. Eventually, the assignment is taken from Amelie, and she is assigned Miss Mori as her direct superior. Tall, elegant, and beautiful, Miss Mori becomes Amelie’s object of desire and nemesis. As a Westerner, Amelie, despite her knowledge of and affection for Japan, is considered by Yumimoto Corporation to be an outsider, and as such, inherently an inferior and untrustworthy employee. Being a woman, an attribute she shares with Miss Mori, only reinforces this assessment. Amelie is given no real work to do, and so creates her own assignments. Initiative, though, is regarded by the Japanese Corporation as insubordination, and Amelie is punished by being assigned increasing humiliating tasks that are mindless and repetitive. Amelie responds to the increasing tyranny, not with shame or embarrassment, but rather with a calm, Zen-like acceptance. Or is Amelie’s acceptance really perverse pleasure and her response subversion? Hierarchy of power, the rigidity of roles, faceless corporate employees, hypocrisy, and sadomasochism are the novella’s themes, and little Amelie, by story’s end exacts her revenge on The Yumimoto Corporation and Miss Mori with cruel precision.
  • (3/5)
    A novella- the protagonist - called Amelie San takes a job in a Japanese corporation. She signed a 1 year contract. The book depicts the clash of western and eastern culture. Amelie - san ends her career in the toilet. Satirical novel by Amélie Nothomb, first published in 1999, and translated into English by Adriana Hunter in 2001. It was awarded the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française that year.Belgian author who actually did spend time in Japan.
  • (3/5)
    A book about dreaming of another life but something that doesn't really turns out the way you expected. The heroïne gets to work in Japan but have a hard time in getting accepted at the office. Terror described beautifully.
  • (4/5)
    Si vous êtes interessé par le Japon, c'est le livre qu'il vous faut. Le romantisme des Japo-niaiseries est laissé à l'abandon, au profit d'une description adroite et Européenne, sans prétentions, des conditions de travail au pays du soleil levant à travers le vécu de l'auteure.
  • (3/5)
    This short novel was a quick and easy read. I enjoyed about the first third of the book immensely as Amélie begins her year working for Yumimoto Corp in Japan. She is the lowest of the lows as a new employee. She takes orders from everyone. Initially she worships her immediate supervisor, Miss Mori, who appears to be the only sane person in the corporation and perhaps the only friend she will have. Amélie looks at Miss Mori, a statuesque impossibly beautiful woman with an intensity bordering on obsession. But then by chance she is given an unexpected opportunity by someone in another department and thus begins her downfall, as western ideas of what one should do clash irreconciably with the Japanese corporate culture reality. Miss Mori is not her friend, it turns out. She betrays Amélie to thwart her success. She quickly becomes the torturer intent on making Amélie pay her dues. At this point the narrative for me makes a fatal turn and becomes almost slapstick. Amélie, a smart intelligent woman is suddenly a borderline idiot. I suppose we are to see this as her reaction to her initiative and smarts being punished, but it was more like a 360 degree turn out of nowhere. She supposedly goes three days without sleep and then finally collapses in the office and covers herself with garbage to keep warm. She no longer had my sympathy, although the narrator was clearly playing for such from the reader. There were some redeeming moments in the story thereafter, but the novel never recaptured (for me) the intial charm of the culture clash. The middle of the book also contains a rather extended description, almost a rant, about what Japanese women have to endure in their culture. I was immediately struck with the thought of "Where is this coming from? On what basis has the author derived this extensive analysis?; certainly not from her limited interaction with Miss Mori ... and this diatribe certainly broke the rule of show don't tell, by telling us very bluntly whereas we had already been shown (as well as told a bit) parts of this earlier. At the end I was thinking "glad this is over - at least it wasn't a total bust - let's get on to something else" which is not a good way to feel at the end of a book. Let's just say I felt let down.
  • (5/5)
    I can't believe I've not read this before - it's been sitting on my shelf for ages - and I think I've been missing out.

    Young Amélie starts work as a translator at Yumimoto at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, but as she makes a bad impression as soon as she arrives, and continues to break Japanese traditions and infuriate her superiors, she is continually demoted until she takes on the job of 'Madame Pipi' in the 44th floor toilets.

    Absolutely hilarious - I was trying (and failing) to not burst out laughing and look like an idiot while reading on the bus...
  • (4/5)
    Reveals with a refined sense of humour a side of the Japanese society that is less known. Working for a major Japanese company in a low position, Amélie manages to descend even lower. It's easy to read and some of the scenes made me lough out loud.
  • (4/5)
    Amélie is a 22 year old recent college graduate of Belgian descent who was born in Japan and seeks to return there to work. She signs a one year contract with a company based in Tokyo, and enters the strange and, for her, inscrutable world of a large Japanese company, with its strict hierarchical structure and rules, sexist attitudes and behaviors, and frequent humiliation by supervisors. Amélie is initially given simple tasks, and fails each one spectacularly, due to her incompetent "Western brain". At the same time she antagonizes her immediate supervisor, an strikingly beautiful woman who sacrifices everything to achieve a low level managerial position; as a punishment, she is given more menial tasks, but Amélie struggles even with these chores, until she finally is given a position that she can do without screwing up too badly.Fear and Trembling is supposedly a novel, but it appears to be based on Nothomb's personal experiences. It's a quick and moderately enjoyable read, with a not very flattering view into the soul crushing world of a large Japanese corporation.
  • (5/5)
    Really entertaining dark comedy about a young woman who thinks she has all the answers only to get slapped down at every turn. No matter what they put her through, she stays peppy.
  • (5/5)
    This short novel is both absurdly funny and touchingly sad. It is a fearless exploration of the differences between Eastern and Western culture, shown through the eyes of Amelie, a Japanese-born Belgian woman who has gotten a job in a Japanese corporation. Her experiences range from the absurd (being told by a superior that she is no longer allowed to understand Japanese) to the humiliating as she, with the best of intentions, continues to make mistakes and violate cultural norms. There are some very insightful comments on the nature of Japanese culture; for example, “You find the most outrageous deviants in the countries with the most authoritarian systems.” There is also some very wry, but poignantly accurate, commentary on the duties of Japanese men and women. While Amelie is treated poorly at the company, she provides the context that explains to the reader why her superiors respond the way they do . This was quite a short novel that could be read in one sitting, but leaves you thinking long afterwards. It is humorous, as well as thought-provoking and enlightening about Japanese culture and the clash that can occur when East meets West. A wonderful piece of literature.
  • (3/5)
    Very funny and quick read. I enjoyed the insight into Japanese culture. The poignancy of a woman of European heritage, born in Japan, but treated like an outsider by all, also comes through. There was a lot of humor, but also some heartbreak. I'm passing it on to my Japanese-obsessed daughter.
  • (4/5)
    Living in a foreign country is often not as wondrous and glamorous as it appears to be from the outside. No matter how much you want to get to know your new culture and fit in, there are always differences in the way you approach people or matters, and even if you're trained ahead of time, you don't know what they all are, and they can still catch you unawares, and help bring you down.Such is the case in Nothomb's book, which is a scathing, thinly fictionalized satire of her time working in a large Japanese company. She had wanted to spend time living in Japan again since being there with her parents as a child, and working there is an ideal way to try it, but she missteps with her coworkers time and again, in the most ridiculous ways. For example, after being hired to translate, she is criticized for speaking Japanese in front of people from another company, and forbidden to understand Japanese in the future.Such indignations are par for the course in this book, and the poisonous relationship between Nothomb and her immediate superior, Ms. Fubuki, provides plentiful other examples. It's a very amusing story, if a bit harsh at points, and can be read very quickly. There aren't a lot of characters, and beyond the main two, they're pretty one-dimensional, but it doesn't really make a difference in a satire. It's not something that's likely to stick with you forever, but it makes for a light, fun summer read. I'd get it out of the library rather than buying it, since it really is finishable in an afternoon, but it's worth a chance.
  • (4/5)
    This is a gem of a little book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading!It is a novel, based on the true experiences of the author, Amelie Nothomb. She is a Westerner who goes to work for a Japanese company. Even though she knows Japanese customs inside and out, she finds herself continually making cultural blunders, and gaining the hatred of her superiors despite her efforts to reverse their opinion of her. Despite the lack of reciprocal feelings, Amelie is fascinated and deeply loyal to her direct supervisor, the beautiful and confident Fubuki Mori. This book is easy to read, but has a sort of simplistic beauty to it that leaves it without need for fancy wording or flowery prose. Nothomb is a brilliant writer, and she peppers her story with dashes of culture, insight, clever wording, and strong characters. I loved the sense of Japanese culture, so deeply ingrained in its people, that this book showed a glimpse of.I will remember this book for a long while, and I am looking forward to reading more by Amelie-San.
  • (4/5)
    Perhaps not a masterpiece, but a very funny and engaging little novel that perhaps tells us as much about office politics in a large organisation as it does about Japanese society. The key to the way the story works is the inevitability of each step in Amélie's absurd progression given the relations and status of everyone in the hierarchy around her. Management courses would certainly be more interesting if they gave you this sort of thing to read.
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely loved Fear and Trembling. I actually watched the movie first and loved it as well. I must say it follows the book almost exactly. It’s a fascinating study of the clash of cultures. The book is translated from the French, and the film is a combination of French and Japanese with English sub-titles.In this short semi-autobiographical novel, Amelie Nothomb describes the experiences of ‘Amelie’ during her year at a Japanese corporation. Amelie is smitten with Japan, knows the language, and is ecstatic that she obtained a corporate position as a translator in the country where she was born. The job is not all she hoped, but she tries her best to stick out her position the way a Japanese person would. I found this book (and movie) to be truly fascinating. Nothomb obviously loves Japan and Japanese culture, but even she finds that the differences of East and West are sometimes difficult to overcome.In speaking of the Japanese woman:“It is best to avoid any kind of physical pleasure because it is apt to make you sweat. There is nothing more shameful than sweat. If you gobble up a steaming bowl of noodles, if you give in to s*xual craving, if you spend the winter dozing in front of the fire, you will sweat. And no one will be in any doubt that you are coarse.The choice between sweat and suicide isn’t a choice. Spilling one’s blood is as admirable as spilling sweat is unspeakable. Take your life, and you will never sweat again. Your anxiety will be over for all eternity.”I own two other books by Nothomb - The Character of Rain and Sulphuric Acid — and I’m very much looking forward to both!1999, 2001 for the English translation, 132 pp.4.5/5
  • (5/5)
    Fantastic! Quick, intense cultural gap. Perfectly illustrated. This book, set in the contemporary corporate culture of Tokyo, is illuminating, stunning, and oh so witty. Sort of Zen philosophy meets theater of the absurd. A must read!
  • (4/5)
    In this book based on her own life, Amelie returns to her birthplace Japan on a year-long contract as an interpreter for Yumimoto Corporation. The corporation is a place of rigid hierarchy - "Mister Haneda was senior to Mister Omochi, who was senior to Mister Saito, who was senior to Miss Mori, who was senior to me. I was senior to no one" begins the author.Amelie was born in a small Japanese village and spent her formative years there. For her, this job is a dream come true, a return to her childhood. Little does she know of the trials awaiting her. Early on, she incurs the wrath of Mister Omochi when she converses in fluent Japanese with a visiting Japanese delegation to Yumimoto. Her crime - discomfiting the delegation by not knowing her place within the Japanese culture as a Westerner. She is immediately ordered to un-understand Japanese!Amelie is taken under the wing of a well meaning Mister Tenshi who assigns her the task of writing a report on fat free butter being developed in Belgium. Her success with this report is immediately perceived by her ethereal superior Miss Mori as an attempt to rise too much too soon within Yumimoto without paying her dues. Little transgressions like these get blown out of proportion and with each such misstep, Amelie is reassigned more belittling tasks. The final blow comes when Miss Mori banishes her to the toilets to clean them, both the men's and women's. Amelie enters a Zen like state by doing this task with all the dignity she can muster. She can quit over this, but doing so would be to lose face before all of Yumimoto. All of Amelie's tribulations are detailed with a sparkling dry wit and even when you're laughing at Amelie's predicament, you're feeling terribly sorry for her. The most interesting part of the book was for me reconciling the character Amelie's life with that of the author. Amelie Nothomb's life details correspond roughly with much of the character's but you can't help but wonder if there isn't an element of exaggeration in this tale. In India, I've witnessed the fervor with companies train their teams on Japanese cultural norms. But still, if this is the way most Japanese companies run, how are they the leaders in so many fields today?
  • (4/5)
    Grabbed in haste from a bookstall in Geneva, having failed to pack the book I was reading at the time, this book was a happy accident. Delicate, self-deprecating, and at times very funny, Nothomb shows what can happen if you forget you are a foreigner. Her rapid descent from intern to cleaning the toilets is precipitated by speaking perfect Japanese.I hope the English translation does justice to the beautifully pared-down French.Another famous Belgian!
  • (3/5)
    A quick read, fun, but with a very limited look at the author's life. Not ideal for those who want deep character development.
  • (5/5)
    This is an amazing book. I've heard it's her best, and I am not sure the writing can be improved. Hemingway-esque writing. The plot is funny, sort of a Larry David script meets Hokkaido Highway meets Douglas Coupland. But what is amazing is the sparse, power-packed writing. Reading this is bliss. Nothomb here writes a sort of mini-memoir of what her experience was being a young Westerner with some Japanese roots unleashed into the workforce. While I suspect I am not able to diagram what, if anything, in the book is not realistic, the author has such a pleasant voice, and is immediately likeable. This is one of the few books with relationships at the core that I find truly inspiring without being sappy. It perhaps is reminiscent of the recent office novel 'Then We Came to the End'--if you liked that then you'll like this more.
  • (5/5)
    funny, fast, biting and dark. nothomb will rock you with this story about one belgian woman's downward spiral as a corporate translator in japan.
  • (5/5)
    a small treasure of a book,with many levels of interpretations,some obvious, some more hidden:simple and complicated at the same time, it's a magnificent piece that can be thought of as a succesfull zen-budahist experience of the main character, in a Kafkaish,modern world.